NEW FRANKLIN: It didn’t take the closing of sections of busy U.S. 224 last year to convince motorists that the intersection at state Routes 619 (West Turkeyfoot Road) and 93 (Manchester Road) is undersized.
But the resurfacing of the east-west highway to the north was enough to turn the 619/93 intersection into a traffic quagmire during construction, New Franklin Mayor Al Bollas said.
“It’s an antiquated intersection,” the mayor said. “[Southbound on state Route 93] traffic heading west backs up over a half-mile during rush hour.”
Traffic problems also worsen at the busy intersection during the summer boating and swimming season, especially during Fourth of July celebrations, when as many as 50,000 visitors are drawn to the Portage Lakes area for fireworks and recreation.
Relief will come with the conclusion of a major construction project this year.
Franklin Township began seeking help for the intersection before it incorporated into the city of New Franklin in 2004.
The intersection showed up on the Ohio Department of Transportation safety list before the city incorporated, said Victor Botosan, transportation improvement program coordinator for the Akron Metropolitan Area Transportation Study, a local planning agency.
“It’s a location that keeps coming up in studies,” he said.
Once the city incorporated, the issue came before AMATS and was approved for upgrades in 2009. AMATS made the determination after a complete review of traffic patterns showed the intersection was dangerous enough for the agency to take notice, Botosan said.
“It was on the safety list due to the number of crashes that occurred at the intersection. [The list] focuses on some of the worst areas for crashes,” he said.
The criteria is 10 or more crashes per mile per year and a crash rate of one or more crashes per million vehicle miles over a three-year period, Botosan said.
The city came in just over the minimum criteria with 11 crashes over the three-year period, Bollas said.
“Last year, we saw a big increase because of the Route 224 construction. [The intersection] is the only other east-west thoroughfare road in the area,” he said.
The project, overseen by the Ohio Department of Transportation, will go to bid in early March, said Justin Chesnic, public information officer for ODOT District 4.
The engineering firm GPD Group drew up the plans and is consulting on the project, he said.
Construction will begin in May to widen the eastbound roadway of state Route 619 to three lanes and the westbound lane to two lanes. Both directions will include left-turn lanes.
The southbound roadway on state Route 93 will include a right-turn lane at the intersection. Longer approaches and left-turn lanes will be added, along with new lighting at the intersection.
Temporary road closures will be necessary during some phases of construction when traffic will be detoured to State Street and Lockwood Road, and construction should be completed by the end of fall, Bollas said.
The $1.8 million project will be paid for using $1.472 million in federal funds funneled through AMATS and $325,000 in local dollars, a 20 percent match from New Franklin.
“We’ve been able to pay for everything so far in cash,” Bollas said.
New Franklin also received almost $400,000 in grant money to realign South Turkeyfoot Road at the intersection of state Route 619. That work should begin in September.
The District 8 Public Works Integrating Committee approved the grant from the state capital improvement program for the $574,000 project. The funds include a $50,000 grant from the Summit County Engineer, a $125,000 match from New Franklin and the cooperation of Turkeyfoot Lake Golf Links for a land trade.
New Franklin invested $48,000 for preliminary plans, engineering and application assistance from GPD Group, Bollas said.
South Turkeyfoot Road will be moved several hundred feet to the west to be directly across from Point Comfort Drive at Turkeyfoot Lake Golf Links.
The intersection will receive major improvements that include upgrades to the Upper Deck Bar and Grill and golf course parking lots, curbs, storm water drainage, a new golf-cart staging area and new traffic signals. Access to the golf course and the Upper Deck will be open during construction, which will take place in late summer and early fall, Bollas said.
Both road projects are long overdue, he said.
“We haven’t had any major road funds allocated to New Franklin in 30 years,” Bollas said.
Kathy Antoniotti can be reached at 330-996-3565 or firstname.lastname@example.org.